“Semerwater rise, and Semerwater sink, And swallow the town all save this house, Where they gave me food and drink! ” cried the Angel.
Semerwater was created at the end of the last Ice Age when glacial debris and sediment dammed the valley causing the formation of a lake. Today it is the second largest lake in North Yorkshire after Malham Tarn. The lake is half a mile long covering about 100 acres. The name Semerwater was first recorded in 1153 and is derived from the Old English for lake which is sae and mere which is lake and water. It is a typical picturesque English scene that was the subject of numerous sketches by the artist J.M.W. Turner. Windsurfers and boatmen use the lake and walkers and fishermen relax along the shores and it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for nature lovers.
Although Semerwater is a sizable body of water tradition tells that where the lake is situated today there was once a thriving and prosperous town. The legend tells how the town was visited by an angel who took the form of a poor old beggar man. In the guise of the beggar man the angel went around the town begging for food and drink. He begged in the streets and in the main market place but all the rich and prosperous citizens passed him by or looked the other way never once making an offering. Read more
Around the coasts of the British Isles and many other parts of the world there are many legends that tell of lands and civilizations that have been lost to the sea. The land of Lyonnesse was believed to have lain between Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. The city of Ys of Brittany was also said to have succumbed to the sea, and of course there was Atlantis, the most famous of all. Wales also has legends of lands and kingdoms that have sunk below the waves. One such kingdom was Cantre’r Gwaelod and another one was Tyno Helig, that was once a kingdom of northwest Wales. This article will look at the legend of Llys Helig and the lost land of Tyno Helig.
Prince Helig ap Glannawg
In Tyno Helig the ruler, Prince Helig ap Glannawg, had a magnificent palace known simply as Llys Helig which means Helig’s Palace in English. Prince Helig ap Glannawg was believed to have lived in the 6th century and ruled an area that stretched from what is now Flintshire in the east to Conwy in the west and further. Helig’s Palace was thought to be situated in the north of his realm around two miles from the present day coast now submerged below the waters of Conwy Bay. Read more
Descendant of Trojans
In medieval legend Corineus was held to be a descendant of the Trojans and a great warrior who became the founder and first Duke of Cornwall. Geoffrey of Monmouth in his book The history of the Kings of Britain identifies him as the leader of a group of warriors descended from a group of Trojans who settled along the coasts of the Tyrrhenian Sea in exile after the fall of Troy. In a dream Brutus had been told by the goddess Diana to seek out Albion which was populated by giants and make it his home. Although the book was popular in its time it is not regarded today as a reliable history book. This shows how attitudes change with the times and how legends are made, though some may call it fiction. However, we will allow the reader to make up their own mind and look at the story Geoffrey tells about the founding of Cornwall by exiled Trojans.
Brutus of Troy
According to Geoffrey, Brutus was a descendant of Aeneas, a Trojan prince, and had freed many Trojans who had been enslaved in Greece after the fall of Troy. He had become their leader and traveled far and wide with them having many adventures before meeting up with another band of exiled Trojans along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The commander of these exiles was named Corineus who was a courteous and modest man who could offer good council but was renowned also for his courage, boldness and prowess as a warrior. Brutus told Corineus of how Diana had come to him in a dream and told him to search for Albion and asked Corineus to join him. Corineus agreed and although he was a great war leader in his own right when told about the dream and understood who Brutus was descended from he placed himself and his men under his command becoming second in command himself in the army of Brutus and joined the quest. Read more
All around the globe legends abound of mythical cities, lands and islands that have been lost for some reason. Some, such as the mythical cities of El Dorado and Shambala are lost in jungles or impenetrable mountains.
Depiction of Thule – Public Domain
Others such as Lyonness, Cantre’r Gwaelod, or Atlantis, were drowned by the seas. Others such as Thule were rumored to exist on the edge of the ancient world their locations disputed, or like the legendary island of Antillia, also known as the Isle of Seven Cities, faded from view when approached by ships. Still others just could not be rediscovered or were located in inaccessible places like Agartha said to be located at the Earth’s core. Read more
Cornwall in the British Isles is rich in traditional folklore, legends and mythology greatly influenced by its historic and cultural connections. Celtic, Saxon, Viking, Christian and many other influences are interwoven to create marvelous legends and stories. This page serves as a brief introduction to the rich world of Cornish folklore and legend. Other pages on this site will look into the legends and folklore more closely offering interpretations and insights.
Cormoran the Giant – Public Domain
Giants play an important part in Cornish folklore. There are many Cornish landmarks that are said to have been created by giants or associated with them. These may be found all over Cornwall from the barren granite rocks and wild rugged landscape of Bodmin Moor, to the dramatic windswept cliffs and coves around the coastline.
The tiny island of St Michael’s Mount was said to have been built by a giant named Cormoran and in some versions of the tale with the help of his wife. Cormoran used to stride across the narrow sea channel separating the island from the mainland and raid the local farmer’s sheep and cattle. He was said to be the first victim of Jack the Giant Killer who was the son of a local farmer. Jack lured Cormoran into a hole he dug which brought him down to Jack’s level enabling him to kill him.
Cormoran and Jack the Giant killer are just two of the legendary characters that abound in Cornish folklore and legend – Read more
Dragon boat racing is a spectacular and exciting event and the highlight of the Dragon Boat Festival. In China and many other countries in south-east Asia, the Dragon Boat Festival, or more correctly the Duanwu Festival, is a traditional and national folk festival originating in China over 2000 years ago. It is one of the most popular and widespread of Chinese festivals and officially recognized. The festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth month by the Chinese lunar calendar and the last one was held on 5th May 2009, by western calendars.
The Legend of Qu Yuan
Its origins are shrouded in history and there are different theories on how it began. The most popular account is that it was derived from the remembrance of Qu Yuan, the great Chinese poet and patriot.
Qu Yuan was a loyal minister to Emperor Huai, in the state of Chu, between 475 BC and 221 BC, which was known as the Warring States period. He was much respected for his patriotism, wisdom and integrity. Read more
Beowulf is an epic poem originally written in Old English about a mythical warrior who epitomised the perfect warrior qualities of courage, honesty, loyalty and strength. This work is a brief synopsis of the poem.
The story begins with the funeral of the great King Scyld of Denmark and ends with his own. King Scyld’s great-grandson and successor King Hrothgar builds a great and luxurious hall for his warriors to live in and he names it Heorot. When the hall has been completed King Hrothgar hosts a great and lavish feast and all his warriors gather there to celebrate.
Unknown to the king or his warriors the noise of their celebrations has awoken Grendel, a monster whose lair is at the bottom of a nearby lake. Grendel raids the hall one night killing thirty of the king’s best warriors while they sleep. Each time the hall is used for feasting over the next 12 years Grendel appears and kills great number of warriors. King Hrothgar and his best advisers can find no way of ridding themselves of Grendel or a way to assuage his anger.
Beowulf, Prince of the Geats
Beowulf, a prince of the Geats of Sweden, and greatest warrior of the age, hears of King Hrothgar’s problems he vows to help rid the Danes of Grendel. Gathering 14 of his most trusted and bravest warriors to him he sails to Denmark to the court of King Hrothgar to offer his help. Read more Continue reading
According to medieval legend the founder and first king of Britain was the Trojan exile known as Brutus of Troy, who was said to be the descendant of the Trojan hero, Aeneas. This claim was first documented in a ninth century text the Historia Britonum attributed to Nennius, followed by an account given by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Histori Regum Britanniae, in the 12th century. Brutus does not appear in classical works and is not regarded as being a historical figure by most historians.
In a hunting accident when Brutus was in his teens he killed his father with an arrow and was punished by being exiled from Italy. Brutus left Italy and traveled among the islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea and spent time in Gaul, founding the city of Tours. Eventually with a band of followers he arrived in Britain defeating the few giants that populated the country. Naming the country after himself and reigning over it until his death. His sons were to split Britain into three parts to rule over. Read more Continue reading
Legends, folktales and mythology often provide a way to look at the human condition and provide lessons that still have value today. The Welsh folktale of March’s ears looks at the subject of physical deformity and gives insight into what is really important in a human being. It is a very old tale and versions of it exist in many parts of the world. The story deals with a number of themes including the shame felt by humans affected by deformity and the urge to conceal it from the world. It helps us come to terms with our own self perceived imperfections and recognize and accept the important qualities in people.
The tale tells how there once lived in Wales a ruler called King March Ab Meirchion. He had a rich palace and court at Castellmarch, Lleyn. March was one of the great sea traders of Britain and his marine time trade was very lucrative. He was the ruler over a rich and prosperous land where the fields were well tilled and produced ample crops for the people. His subjects were happy and worked hard upon the land and were generally content with their lot. They loved their king for his kindness, generous spirit and the justice of his rule. In his palace in a strong room he kept a great treasure trove which was full of pearls, jewels, gold and silver. He had all the wealth and possessions he could possible need and by any reckoning should have been a very happy man, but the truth is he was not. Read more Continue reading
Cantre’r Gwaelod was a legendary land situated in Cardigan Bay, Wales, that became flooded by the sea drowning many of its inhabitants and forcing survivors to seek new homes further inland. There are many different legends which give an account of how this deluge happened and this work looks at the one which casts the blame on a maiden named Mereid, who was responsible for maintaining a sacred well which fed the spirit of a goddess into the land.
Few people survived the catastrophe that Mereid had let loose. Seithennin was drowned along with most other inhabitants of the land. Her father, Gwyddno and his sons survived and a few other people made it to high ground. Their descendants scratched out a living among the rugged hills and valleys further inland to the new shoreline. Today, sometimes remnants of the fair land of Cantre’r Gwaelod are sometimes seen at low tides such as the submerged forest near Ynyslas, near Borth, invoking distant memories of a lost land taken by the sea. Read more Continue reading